virtual library . . . in the cloud?


hello, dear readers.

welcome to another edition of the totally hip blog for totally hip blog readers (homage to ron charles’ thvbr – the most hilarious book related thing i’ve come across in a while).

today’s episode: the library as place . . . in space. in the cloud.

as some of you know, i have been on the cloud. in the cloud? on top of the cloud? anyway, i’m very interested in this ‘cloud’ concept where you own nothing and everything is virtual and out ‘there.’ no more books, papers, ink, stuff like that. it’s all generated electronically and virtually.

the popularity of e-books and e-reading has grown by leaps and bounds, especially since the introduction of the amazon kindle, the barnes & noble nook and apple’s iPad. therefore it should come as no surprise that someone out ‘there’ has figured a way to harness that ‘e’-ness to be shared amongst ourselves.

what, dear woman, are you blathering on about? i heard that. patience.

exhibit a: amazon allows kindle books to be loaned. shockers!! of course, there are some ‘rules’ to lending. an amazon kindle edition can be loaned (if the publisher gives the okay) ONE time for 14 days. period. end of story. it can not be loaned again. ever. end of story. again.

exhibit b: it didn’t take long for the entrepreneurial spirit of american enterprise to rise upon hearing this news to create…kindle lending websites. basically, virtual libraries. two new websites, ebookfling.com and kindlelendingclub.com allow users to find each other. if you have kindle books to lend, you can post them to the site. if you want to borrow, you can browse the site for titles or enter a specific title.

the kicker? you don’t even need a kindle! say wha? you can use your kindle app for iphone/ipod, pc, etc etc etc. and it works. confession time: i borrowed a book from ‘tj’ through kindle lending club and downloaded it to my ipod. of course, now the clock is ticking. i’ve got 14 days to read it or my coach turns back into a pumpkin and my horses into mice. eek!

which leads to the question: what will happen if ‘libraries’ can just ‘spring’ up out of nowhere? regular people loaning and borrowing books without oversight?? where are the MARC records? doesn’t anybody care that these books have no tags? no call number? no ‘related’ item?

apparently not. which begs the next question…what will patrons want from a library? if it’s borrowing books they don’t own, and they can get electronic versions from other providers, will they abandon the library? will they ever leave their homes again??

hold on, chicken little, the sky isn’t falling…yet. but the clouds are full of stuff. and when clouds get full of stuff, they do what clouds do best…they rain.

here’s a quick read on the ‘virtual library’ scenario.

just to keep things in perspective. two of my recent reads are over 500 pages and wallace’s infinite jest (over 1000 pages) is on my nightstand. 14 days ain’t gonna cut it. so maybe the virtual library, for now, is just a ‘lite’ version of our esteemed and established institution. or maybe it’s a younger cousin to take under our wing.

happy reading . . . no matter the format.

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